What is a carnivorous plant?

eklaab(California)January 1, 2013

To be considered canivorous, a plant must do the following:

1) attract prey,

  1. trap prey,

  2. digest prey,

Some plants do the first two steps, but unless they also digest the prey, they aren't carnivorous. Some plants trap insects as a defensive measure or for pollination, but since they don't digest the insects they caught, they are not considered to be carnivorous. Also, note that digestion does not have to involve the generation of enyzmes by the plant. Some carnivorous plants rely on bacteria to breakdown their captured prey, and the nutrients are then absorbed by the plant.

Plants that are considered carnivorous include the following genera:

Aldrovanda (Waterwheel Plant),

Byblis (Rainbow Plant),

Cephalotus (Albany Pitcher Plant),

Darlingtonia (Cobra Lily),

Dionaea (Venus Flytrap),

Drosera (Sundew),

Drosophyllum (Portuguese Dewy Pine),

Genlisea (Corkscrew Plant),

Heliamphora (Sun Pitcher),

Ibicella (Devil's Claw),

Nepenthes (Tropical Pitcher Plant),

Pinguicula (Butterwort),

Sarracenia (North American Pitcher Plant),


Utricularia (Bladderwort)

There are also a few plants in the Bromeliad family that are carnivorous. Some other plants are very close to being carnivorous, but fall into a gray area and don't fully qualify. Some of the plants in the following genera are considered semi- or quasi-carnivorous:

Capsella (Shepherd's Purse),

Hepatics (Liverworts),



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